On Nov. 23, at Shadow Creek Golf Membership in Las Vegas, Tiger Woods will play Phil Mickelson in a one-off spherical of golf with a winner-takes-all prize of $9 million awaiting the victor. Billed as “The Match,” this made-for-TV contest represents one thing of of venture for the producers, Turner Sports activities, not least as a result of golf’s largest occasions are, ordinarily, free to air on community tv and, additionally, as a result of pay-per-view occasions are often confined to males bashing one another’s heads in.
Now, although, they’re asking golf followers handy over $19.99 to look at two past-their-prime forty-somethings going head-to-head for what’s, let’s face it, an obscene sum of money.
The trash speaking has already began — Mickelson informed ESPN it might be “the best $9 million” he’s ever made — however you’ll be able to’t assist suppose it’s all a bit, nicely, phony. And that’s as a result of it’s. Ten years in the past, you may need made a case for it. Woods had simply received the 14th main title of his profession on the US Open at Torrey Pines whereas Mickelson had lengthy since overcome his main hoodoo, having scooped two Masters titles and the PGA Championship and completed third in that yr’s cash listing. Again then, the truth that they couldn’t stand the sight of one another would have made it all of the juicier.
Quick-forward a decade and Woods’ woes, private , might look like at an finish however his aura of invincibility is gone for good. Mickelson, in the meantime, is a shadow of the participant he as soon as was. Simply take a look at how he performed on the latest Ryder Cup. Woods wasn’t significantly better.
However within the warped world of pay-per-view, none of this appears to matter. In truth, it doesn’t even matter if the members play the identical sport.
Have a look at boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his latest forays into PPV. In August 2017, aged 40, he reentered the ring to combat the Irish combined martial arts champion Conor McGregor, and over four million folks in the US paid for the privilege. Final week, Mayweather introduced he was popping out of retirement — but once more — to combat 20-year-old Japanese kickboxing sensation, Tenshin Nasukawa, in Tokyo on New 12 months’s Eve. Mayweather quickly after pulled out — a clever choice contemplating Muhammad Ali’s humiliating pay-per-view bout with Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in 1976. Ali landed simply six punches over 15 largely uneventful rounds.
Very sometimes you’re going to get a contest worthy of the cash however they’re few and much between. Even Mayweather’s 2015 “Struggle of the Century” towards Manny Pacquiao was a dud, albeit one which grossed over $600 million due to a document four.6 million US households paying for it. More and more, although, pay-per-view is a site the place credibility is stretched and the place the motion inevitably fails to match the hype.
That’s how you find yourself with Woods taking up Mickelson, regardless that there are not any real causes (apart from the 9 million apparent ones) for them to tee it up towards one another. All of which begs the query: Why do sports activities followers fall for it, time and time once more?
Effectively, for one, broadcasters are brilliantly adept at promoting PPV occasions as an expertise, fairly than simply one other sport or a combat, engaging sports activities followers to enroll lest they miss out on one thing particular. Issue within the followers’ tendency for swallowing promotional puff, and it’s not tough to see why there’s at all times a viable marketplace for pay-per-view, irrespective of the particular high quality of the proposition.
Turner Sports activities received’t care what drives folks to “The Match” so long as they present up. Just lately, Neal Pilson, a former president at CBS Sports activities, informed Reuters, “The occasion ought to enchantment to extra than simply the golf viewers with its star energy,” earlier than including, “however I’ve no plans to look at.”
It’s a tough promote and true golf followers will, you’d hope, see by way of it for the tawdry cash-in it clearly is. And whereas it’s comparatively low cost in pay-per-view phrases — Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was $89.95 for traditional definition and $99.95 for HD — the truth that it’s been pitched at a $20 value level tells you all it’s good to know. Aside from the money prize for the gamers, there may be actually nothing at stake.
No world titles, no inexperienced jackets, nothing. They don’t even hate one another any extra. It’s simply two wealthy males enjoying a sport of golf to get that bit richer. It’s the flimsiest of ideas, a cynical train in futility dressed up as a real sporting contest. And I don’t — and received’t — purchase it.
Gavin Newsham is the co-founder of Golf Punk journal and has additionally written for Golf Month-to-month and Golf World.